If you celebrate a gift-giving holiday this season, you're probably going to get socks from a well-meaning relative. (I'm looking forward to it! I really need socks.) And now you can do some good with your old ones, or the ones whose mates got lost in the wash and which you've been wearing as odd pairs: Donate them to help a rare weasel.
A team of researchers from UC Davis' Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Program, adorably acronymed SNAMP, are trying to get good data on the rare Pacific fisher weasel. These guys are super-elusive, so to get good images, researchers need a motion-sensing camera and bait that will keep the weasels busy while they're being photographed. A sock full of chicken is basically a Kong for weasels — they have to chew through the sock to get their snack, so it takes them a while. And meanwhile the automatic paparazzi are snapping away. (Also, sometimes bears try to eat the socks, but let's be honest, this is adorable.)
However, this research presents some challenges, both financial and social:
Up until now, the [lead] researcher has been footing the bill for the 2,000 or so socks he's been going through each year — not to mention suffering the unspoken ridicule of being that guy buying an obscene amount of socks. That's why he's appealing to the public to send in their lightly-used, unwanted, or unpaired socks. He's tired of seeming like a weirdo:
"My real motivation for this sock drive is so that I don't have to stand in line at Walmart with two or three cartloads full of all the socks I can find. I get a lot of stares and a lot of interesting questions."
You can mail the weasels' Christmas presents to Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project, 40799 Elliott Dr., Oakhurst, CA 93644, or contact site coordinator Anne Lombardo. The team uses 250 socks a freakin' month, so unlike with the penguin sweaters, you probably don't have to worry about them getting more help than they need.